We gather to eat, drink, enjoy God’s words,
and we receive the Holy Spirit’s work.
Break Free from the Bondage of “Position” —The Spiritual Course of a Christian Walking Toward the Light (II)
On one meeting, brothers and sisters were all seated and greeted each other, then we took the Bibles out of our handbags. I ran my eyes over them and thought: Oh, our preacher always attended the meeting actively before; why is he absent today? At that time, Sister Jia said slowly, “Brothers and sisters, today the preacher has something urgent to deal with, so he asked me to give a sermon in his stead.” On hearing that, everyone said disappointedly, “Oh.” I thought: Sister Jia is weak in character. She is always very slow in doing everything, and it will take a rather long time for her to talk about one topic. How come the preacher arranges for her to preach today? Then, Sister Jia began to read the Bible. She read slowly and even misread several words. I frowned at her and my desire for position was stirred: If I read, it will show brothers and sisters that I am much better than her in preaching. In this way, the elder is very likely to train me as a preacher. Therefore, I said to her, “You’re too slow. Let me read it.” Sister Jia said no more, sitting there with a grievance. In spite of it, I read from the beginning, “They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.” (Matthew 25:3-4) “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife has made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” (Revelation 19:7-8) While reading, I thought: Listen, I indeed read more fluently than you! You can’t even read the Bible well; how dare you want to be a preacher? I’m the one who has the makings of a preacher. After reading, I said loudly, “Brothers and sisters, my friend, Zhong Yihua, has read a lot of spiritual books and understands many truths. Through her fellowship, I was well supplied in my spirit. A moment later, Sister Yihua will give us a sermon. Do you agree?” Brothers and sisters looked at Yihua with curious eyes, and then someone gladly said, “Well, we really wish to listen to something fresh!” But Yihua said, “Brothers and sisters, now that Sister Jia holds the meeting today, listen to her preaching first, and then I’ll share something with you. It’s more orderly.” Brothers and sisters all nodded.
At that moment, Sister Jia continued, “Brothers and sisters, the and the Day of the Lord is drawing near. We must prepare more oil and weave our bright and clean fine linen, for the fine linen means the righteous acts of the saints. We should pursue the transformation and purification in our behavior and disposition….” Then, Sister Li said, “Sister Jia, we often commit sins involuntarily, so I think it is extremely hard to finish our bright and clean fine linen!” Sister Jia went on, “The Lord is full of compassion and mercy, and He was crucified on the cross for us and has already borne our sins. It is the fact that we still commit sins. However, as long as we confess our sins and repent to the Lord more, we believe the Lord will have mercy on and forgive us.” Sister Zhang also said, “Yes, the Lord is compassionate and loving. Even though we commit sins, the Lord will always forgive us!”
At that time, Yihua said with a smile, “Thank the Lord, I also would like to talk a bit about my knowledge. Brothers and sisters, though we often pay lip service to confession of sins and repentance, we neither turn from our evil way within our hearts nor show any practical actions and signs of repentance, and therefore such repentance is not true. Please open Jonah 1:1-2, ‘Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.”’ And let’s turn to Jonah 3:4-10, ‘And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came to the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God: yes, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do to them; and he did it not.’ From this fact, we can see after hearing the preaching of Jehovah God, king of Nineveh laid aside his status as a king and led his people to come before God and repent sincerely. True repentance of the people of Nineveh won God’s mercy and tolerance, because what God wants to see is not the repentance coming from mouth or outward repentance. If our confessions always remain on the lips and outwardly yet we still favor evil in our hearts and never have any practical actions and manifestations of repentance, we’ll fail to fulfill the desire of God. Hence, if we yearn to free from sins, above all, we must have the resolution and willpower to shun evil in our hearts. We should live before the Lord and accept the Lord’s searching every day. We should present whatever we do before the Lord. Whenever we do something, we should consider what it is in nature, what we do it for, and whether it is accordant with the Lord’s teachings and requirements. If we always thank the Lord when everything goes smoothly, yet go our own way when we act, then such thanksgiving is an outward form and practice, and it is religious ritual. So, we Christians must be careful and cautious in our actions and words, and should have a heart of reverence for God. Only such ones can be true believers of the Lord and can win God’s compassion and tolerance. Moreover, God’s attitude toward man is not just compassion and tolerance. If we always live in sins without true repentance inside and even commit sins deliberately after we know them, God will no longer bestow any mercy and tolerance upon us. Just as the Bible says, ‘For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins,’ (Hebrews 10:26) so brothers and sisters, God’s disposition is not only mercy and tolerance but righteousness and holiness. If man sins to the extent that provokes God, God will give them corresponding punishment based on their deeds, just as the Bible records that God once wrought destruction upon the world with a flood as well as destroyed Sodom. So we can’t confine the knowledge of God from a single point of view. …”
Everyone present listened attentively and Sister Li said amazedly, “What Sister Zhong has fellowshipped is rather fresh, and I’ve never heard such knowledge before.” Sister Zhang added, “Well, even so, I think it reasonable.” I continued, “Sister Zhong does know more than us. Yet our preacher can preach nothing but those same words, so much so that I can almost recite them! How nice Sister Zhong’s message is! Brothers and sisters, would you like Sister Zhong to preach more for us?” Brothers and sisters answered, “Yes. Welcome.” Then, Sister Jia stood up angrily and said, “Well, well, it is getting late! We just stop here today.”
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